I was a great fan of the old British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Basil Fawlty’s reply, when a guest at his small town hotel complains about her room’s view, is one of my favorites: “Well, may I ask what you were expecting to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain..." You’ve got to hear it with John Cleese’s exasperated delivery. I’m reminded of camera owners who leave their cameras packed away with the dust bunnies because they don’t have anything to photograph. They live in places like, well, Basil Fawlty’s Torquay, UK and unless they’ve just disembarked a tropical cruise ship, they don’t think they have anything interesting to shoot. I want to encourage them to pull their cameras out of the closet. You don’t have to be on assignment for National Geographic to enjoy nature photography. You don’t have to sit on your deck and wait for herds of wildebeest to sweep majestically across your subdivision to take a great shot. Here in southern Missouri, in darkest January, the prevailing colors are cedar and dead oak leaf. As a nature photographer, however, I like the challenge of noticing, of finding and looking closely. For the kids tagging along on winter days outdoors, it’s a good lesson in appreciation. A mossy bank in mid-winter attracts the eye like a cut emerald, but you may not have even noticed it amid the carpet of violets in April. Mid-winter photography is not always a flock of cardinals in virgin snow. More often, it challenges you to look, to notice lichens, or a bleached beech branch against the blue sky, or what an orange sunset does to the drab gray green of winter cedars. I call this photograph Revealed.
I would have never noticed this magnificent little feather if a herd of wildebeest had been sweeping majestically across the city park.